'Don't give up': Dune Kennings wins all-Māori NZ Surfing final

updated By Kelvin McDonald
Source / Surfing NZ

Dune Kennings (Ngāti Maniapoto) has won the men’s open title in an all-Māori final at the New Zealand Surfing Championships at Piha on Saturday. "Absolutely stoked" with the result, he wants to encourage up-and-coming Māori surfers to "work hard" and "don't give up".

"I would just say that hard work pays off in the end, positive action plus self-belief will take you far, don’t give up," Kennings told TeAMāori.News on Monday.

In beating "best bro" and fellow Māori surfer Elliot Paerata-Reid (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) in the final, 26-year-old Kennings not only became a national champion but also the first Piha surfer to ever win a title at his home break.

"We dreamed of this,” Kennings told NZ Surf Journal after the win.

Kennings said the two of them - who both surf for Piha's Keyhole Boardriders club in Tāmaki Makaurau - had "talked all week how we wanted to finish first and second". 

"I’m just so stoked, it’s still sinking in.” 

In a day of firsts, Kennings also became the first son of a previous title winner to "join the illustrious list of New Zealand champions", Surfing New Zealand said.

His father Lynden won back-to-back titles in 1990 and 1991.

"This win means so much to me," Kennings told Te Ao. "I’ve been working on this for a long time, I’ve had to overcome a lot of things which makes it so special. Also, the fact my Dad and I are the first father-son combo to both win the national title."

He says it is a "unique feeling" to follow his father and told Surfing New Zealand after the win, "He has been telling me all week to bring it home for everyone that supports me."

"The emotions of this win are incredible.”

Dune Kennings, December 2022.  Source / Instagram

Kennings finished with a 19.25 point total ahead of runner-up and 2020 national champion Paerata-Reid on 18.20.

"To be out there with my best bro Elliot and to have a heat like that where we're just dropping nines, it's incredible and I'm so happy," Kennings told Newshub.

Surfing New Zealand said the men’s final is believed to be the highest scoring in the 60-year history of the event.

This article has been updated with comments made by Dune Kennings to Te Ao.